Transcript for Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow: 'Pardons are not on the table'
We begin with the president's team. Jay sekulow and brand-new press secretary Sarah Sanders. I want to start with this tweet that president trump sent out yesterday morning. While all agree that the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of it when the only crime sofar isleaks fweps U.S. Fake news. I wonder if you can explain what the president means by that, complete power to pardon. Does he believe he has the right to pardon himself? The president in that tweet, stated something rather unremarkable. That under the constitution, article 2, section 2, the president has the authority to pardon. I want to be clear on this, George. We have not, and continue to not have conversations with the president of the United States regarding pardons. Pardons have not been discussed. And pardons are not on the table. With regard to the issue of a president pardoning himself, there's a big academic discussion going on. An academic debate. You have professor tribe arguing one point. Professor Turley arguing another point. Let me tell you what the legal team is not doing. We're not researching the issue because the issue of pardons is not on the table. There's nothing to pardon from. "The Washington post" reported you were discussing that. I take it you're denying that. I want to put up something from 1974. They said under the fundamental rule that no one may be the judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself. You're a constitutional lawyer. Do you believe the president can pardon himself? I don't think that -- first of all, it's never been adjudicated on with whether a president could pardon himself because it's not happened. Clearly, the constitution does vest a plenary pardon power within the presidency. Whether it would apply to the president himself, I think would be matter for a court to decide. From a constitutional, legal perspective, you can't dismiss it one way or the other. It's a question. If put in place, would have to be adjudicated by the supreme court to determine konks constitutionality. . The document itself, article 2, is very clear. The president has the power to pardon. Academics are arguing both sides. Wie not researching it. I haven't researched it. You think it's an open question. Let me move on to special counsel Mueller. The president complained to "The New York Times" this week that Robert Mueller has an inherent conflict of interest. I want everyone to listen. The day before. Yes, he was up here. Mueller wanted the job. I said, what the hell is this all about. Talk about conflicts. He was interviewing for the job. He went on the say there were many other conflicts that I haven't said but I will at some point. What did he mean by that? What other conflicts of Robert Mueller does he have in mind? Any lawyer involved in a matter, one like this, a court matter, you're always looking at the issue of potential conflicts or conflicts as they arise. If a conflict arises, you raise that conflict with, in this particular case, with the special counsel. You could go to the deputy attorney general after that. Two appoints the special counsel here the way it's set up with the recusal of Jeff sessions. What the president is talking oobt, in due time, if there is in fact, a conflict that the legal team deems is significant enough to be raised, we would raise the conflict with the special counsel. He says Mueller has an inherent conflict. Has that been raised with the deputy attorney general? We have not raised it with the deputy attorney general yet. I'll tell you this. The special counsel's situation, unique in the way it's structured. You have to be evaluating conflicts as they -- as a matter moves forward. Remember, we're not at an investigative stage yet. I'm not going to start talking about individual and particular conflicts that could exist that would render or put us in a position where we would, in fact, raise that issue. As the lawyers for the president, we're going to be constantly evaluating that situation. If an investigation were to arise and we thought the conflict were relevant. The president has already raised itd. He doesn't seem to be on the same page as his lead attorney, John dowd, who with an interview with "The Wall Street journal" dismissed that notion. We all know him and we're not interested in that Kand of collateral nonsense. He's an honest guy and he's done a good job. I wonder how you reconcile the statements of Mr. Nowd and the president. Does the president agree that mule sir an honest guy who has done a good job? Those are not inconsistent statements. The president was talking about conflicts that exist within the special counsel's office. Or that may rise to a level that we have to address. Not every conflict do we have to address. He was talking about Mr. Mueller's personal conflict. John dowd was responding to the fact that we have had an ongoing professional dialogue with special counsel's office. And haven't yet raised the issues of conflict. The president's concerns, our concern as well, if there is and we're concerned about the con flijts, as conflicts mature, and that's how it works in a proceeding. If the conflicts mature and we have an investigation, which we don't right now, those would be raised in an inappropriate venue. Jop is arding -- let me finish. John dowd who is a brilliant criminal defense lawyer here in Washington, John is raising the scenario as it exists with regard to the special counsel's office as he see something possibly moving forward. The president is concerned about apparent conflicts that have already kind of bubbled to the surface. And look, any lawyer that's handling a matter like this would look at those seriously and take the appropriate action. Mr. Dowd calls the the idea of conflicts collateral nonsense. Mr. Trump is raising the conflict. He says the deputy attorney general is conflicted in "The New York Times" piece. The acting FBI director is conflicted as well. He's raising questions about everybody that is involved in the investigation. Are you concerned at all that this is going to bolster the case of obstruction of justice, that the president appears to be questioning everyone involved in this investigation? No, he has the right to raise concerns. You have the situation with the acting FBI director whose wife received I think $500,000 or $700,000 fm Terry's P.A.C. While she was running for a state senate seat in Virginia. You can't ignore that. That would be naive by any lawyer to dplaglance over that. The president seemed to say it was a problem that the deputy attorney general was from Baltimore. He's concerned, as -- he raised it in the article. This is no secret what you're saying. A democratic state. Democratic appointment here. And does that in and of itself? Look, you have to look at a conflict in the totality of circumstances. I've been practicing law for 38 years. In every case I'm involved in. I've been involved at the supreme court of the united States. Ve argued cases in international tribunals. Here's what happens. You look at these issues, and you make a determination based on looking at those issues, whether it is something that has to be raised within the appropriate venue. What is happening here is the president is recognizing apparent conflicts as a nonlawyer right off the -- just evaluating the the situation. You don't ignore those. Anything like this has to be evaluated. I don't understand how being from Baltimore, serving from Baltimore, he's from Pennsylvania, is a conflict. But I want to bring up one final tweet from the president. This was yesterday as well. He said so many people are asking why isn't the ag or special council, he didn't spell it correctly there, looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes, 33,000 e-mails deleted. Which Comey crimes does the president believe the justice department or Mueller should be investigating? I think there's a serious one. The president of the united States as I am as his lawyer. For James Comey to have notes of the conversations with the president of the United States, he put them on the government computer. Put them in his government desk. He took what he called his private notes. Investigators and the special counsel have determined this is government property. He took government property, his private notes on the conversations with the president, and leaked them to the press for the sole purpose of obtaining a special counsel. Who happened to be appointed the day after the special counsel, Bob Mueller, interviewed for the FBI job. I think, look this is the reality of what happened. The special counsel comes out of this illegally leaked information by James Comey. When an FBI director nor agent can do is leak government property. That's what happened here. If it was an FBI agent that did it, they would be up vest gate bid the FBI. Maybe they are. I don't know. We can't make that determination. Certainly not public. I think it has to be done. An illegally leaked memo of conversations he had with the president of the United States was the basis for which a special counsel was put in place. That conversation would have been covered by executive privilege. James Comey ignored that. Did not give the president or anyone else at that point, when he leaked the information, the opportunity to assert the privilege. That's all we have time for today. It's an open question whether it was illegal. He says it's not classified. The president did not claim privilege over Comey. Four of those documents have been deemed classified, George. It doesn't have to be classified to be illegally leaked. Jay sekulow, thank you for your time. Let's move on to the newly appointed press secretary Sarah
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